There really is no experience quite like Memorial Stadium on game day. The sights, the sounds, the history, the band,
the balloons, all of it makes for a culture-defining experience.
But, let’s face it Husker Fan, the games themselves haven’t been all that fun. I have not witnessed Nebraska win a game in Memorial Stadium since October 02, 2021 – and it’s not for lack of going to games.
Of course, I keep going. We keep going. The Wisconsin game on Saturday is officially a sellout, keeping the streak alive.
Some of going to the games is tradition – it’s just what we do as Nebraskans on an autumn Saturday. Some of it is the belief that something glorious will happen – even if that belief has been harder and harder to maintain over the last few years.
But getting the pre-game right is a guarantee of an experience. You can be undefeated in the pre-game. You can scratch that itch, connect with your history, and feel good about being a Nebraska fan in the pre-game, and bring that good feeling in … well hopefully for a quarter or two, at least.
Many of you are tailgaters, and I am constantly amazed at the creativity – and investment – that tailgaters put into their get-togethers. I’ve done it in the past, and it’s fun, but it’s not really my jam.
I have, however, over the years put together what I believe to be the optimal pre-game routine that gives you the best experience, both logistically and experientially. And because we’re a full-service content provider, we’re going to let you in on the pre-game hack.
Park at the baseball stadium
This is for those of you coming from Omaha, or at least east of Lincoln. You turn off I-80 going towards downtown, but before you reach it (and the inevitable traffic snarl) you pull off at the turnoff for the baseball stadium. As you drive towards the baseball complex, you’ll pass by a number of surface parking lots that are without charge if you’re up for a walk. You can go a little farther and there are pay lots to shorten your hike to the stadium.
The advantage to parking here is twofold. First, you avoid having to drive into Lincoln proper and dealing with all the traffic. Second, when you’re leaving the game, you’re also avoiding the Lincoln traffic leaving the city. You’ve got basically three turns to get onto I-80 and head home.
Also, the restrooms on both sides of Haymarket Park are open and operational, which is a nice option both departing and returning.
Choices over the bridge
Once you cross the bridge over the railroad tracks, you’ll have a number of options. You can head straight to the stadium, walking under the interstate, if you’re pressed for time. If you have a lot of extra time, you can walk right into the Haymarket and choose from any number of options for food and drink before the game.
But the optimal choice is to go just a few blocks east and walk onto the campus. Specifically, you walk to the open area outside the Glenn Korff School of Music to the southeast of the stadium. Make sure you’re there an hour before kickoff.
Listen to – and watch – the band
You’ll see the crowd assembling, waiting for the band to come out. An hour before kickoff, the band will assemble and rehearse their halftime show, ending with Hail Varsity. The band is cool to see from the stands. To be right up next to them, hearing the sounds, seeing the sights, and letting Hail Varsity wash over you is pretty amazing.
Don’t leave once the rehearsal is over, though. Within about ten minutes the band will assemble and prepare to process to the stadium. You can walk along with them through campus as they make their way.
Once the band reaches the stadium, they’ll sing the band song (“let the team all know the band is here!”) and then play Hail Varsity again – and sing you the words to the song too (yes, there’s words to the song!)
At this point, not only have you gotten a really neat experience, you’ve also timed your appearance at the stadium perfectly. You’ve got enough time to go in, get your hot dogs and popcorn (but not a Runza because, come on, that’s gross) and get up to your seats. By the time you sit down there will be about 20-25 minutes before kickoff. You’ll be able to relax for just a bit before the pregame spectacular starts and Sirius plays the team onto the field.
Once the game is over (because you’re not leaving before the end of the game, one way or the other, right?) then you can make your way out of the stadium. If you’re feeling good (or have time and need to drown your sorrows), the Haymarket is right there for you. If you’re just ready to go home, you can walk right back to the car and hit the road without having to navigate downtown Lincoln traffic.
There you have it, Husker Fan. I can’t promise you that the result of the game will make you happy. But follow this routine, and at least you’ll win the pre-game.